Boy, 12, Guides His Blind Friend, 18, to the Finish Line in Cross-Country Races

A blind athlete found a guide runner and friend in a young kid who had been winning races since he was only four years old. The duo has been tethered ever since, developing a bond that goes beyond the cross-country course. 

Finding great friends involves both luck and hard work. Often, forging lifelong friendships is more about finding a deep and genuine connection with someone and being committed to maintaining a solid bond regardless of the circumstances.  

But nothing can be more beautiful than friendships that surprise us in moments we least expected, and this is precisely what happened with 18-year-old Paul Scott. 

Paul hails from a family comprising nine children, seven of whom have been adopted from China. All of them have special needs, including Paul, who is blind. Regarding her son, Valeeta Scott shared: 

“He [Paul] reads braille. He does use the computer with a screen reader.”

Paul showed an interest in running because his other siblings were all on the cross country team. He said he liked running because it offered him a welcome respite from school and studies. 

The West Fork High Cross-Country Team’s coach, Tiffany Surber, explained that they’ve been highly successful in the past three years and have won state competitions. 

Rebel enjoys playing magic tricks with cards, and testing Paul on his Rubik cube skills.

Surber further expressed that she always encourages young children to join the team and strongly believes in inclusiveness. This is why she loved helping Paul, who had a clear vision despite being blind.


12-year-old Rebel Hays had been winning racing competitions since a school fundraiser when he was but four. Talking about her son’s aspirations, LouAnn Hays said: 

“He’s not a video game kid. We don’t even have a gaming box. He just loves to be outside.”

In addition to his love for running, he loves accepting challenges. This is why when West Fork High School put out a call for guide runners, Rebel immediately signed up. He was in second grade at the time. 

LouAnn recalled how passionate her son was to participate in the race. Seeing his enthusiasm and brilliant performance, coach Surber gave him the green signal. Since then, Paul and Rebel have been running side by side. 

Over time, the duo has become a favorite, standing out amongst other kids at the Mansfield Cross-Country Invitational in Mansfield, Arkansas. West Fork High even finished first in Mansfield with Paul and Rebel on the team. 

While running, Rebel uses a guide rope to help Paul on the racing course. He becomes Paul’s eyes and always whispers essential bits of information in his ear, warning if there’s a ditch up close or how to go up the hill. 

The winning duo has developed a friendly bond over time that goes beyond being racing partners on the cross-country course. Rebel enjoys playing magic tricks with cards and testing Paul on his Rubik cube skills. Paul’s mom, Valeeta, further revealed:

Paul really had a hard time sometimes relating to his peers and something about him and Rebel, they were just able to relax and just, you know, hang with each other (sic).”

Undoubtedly, Paul and Rebel’s incredible story is proof that winning on the racing course involves determination, perseverance, grace, and having a great friend by your side. 

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